Touring the Palermo markets
A tour of the noisy Palermo market resembles a visit to an Oriental bazaar. Here you can have all senses are battered by crowding, shouting and strange sights and odours as a reminder of Sicily’s historical ties with the Arab world and the proximity to North Africa.
No more market in Vucceria
The most famous street market used to be Vucciria that ran from Via Roma along Via Cassari and down to the harbour in the Castellammare neighbourhood. This was where travelling merchants from Genua, Pisa and Venice sold their goods in the 17th century, but is was originally a butchers’ market. Ten years ago you could purchase everything from barrows in the narrow streets. There were mafia souvenirs, cheap shoes and fashion surplus along with gorgeous street food and all the ingredients needed for genuine Sicilian cooking.
In Palermo dialect Vucceria means ‘confusion’ and the market generally lived up to this name. Today the pavements of Vucceria are dry in contradiction to the local saying ‘quannu e balati ra Vucciria s’asciucanu’ – as an indication of something that will never happen.
Capo or Ballarò
Another and even older Palermo market is in Ballarò. It runs from from Piazza Casa Professa down Corso Tukory towards Porta Sant’Agata. Here you can buy fresh fish and local fruit and vegetables or stuff yourself with pane e panelle (fried chickpea bread), cazzilli (potato croquettes) and other local delicacies, while you enjoy some of the old Baroque houses that still line the streets.
For those who still have an unquenched passion for street markets there’s Il Capo on via Carini, via di Sant’Agostino and via Cappuccinelle near the momentously ugly Palazzo di Giustizia. Here you’ll find bunches of fragrant herbs, mountains of vegetables, bloody tripe, freshly slaughtered goat and scary fish monsters like the huge swordfish, live lobsters, small sharks and giant octopus.
On the way from Il Capo tothe cathedral you may come across the Palermo’s flea and antique market, Mercato delle Pulci, Mercato delle Pulci, however, is only open on Saturdays and Sundays until 1 pm.